Well, there has been a very good reason for the paucity (read 'total lack'!) of posts for a couple of months and the above picture explains all. I've been working flat out with Daniel Cabart to get the print-ready copy of 'Delage Champion du Monde' at the publishers by the January deadline...we made it by 12 hours! A daunting but very rewarding task and we think the final sumptuous volume justifies all the effort. The entire text is in both French and English and is testimony to Daniel's vast knowledge and fantastic archive of the Marque. It takes the reader from the days of the 2LCV and the young Albert Lory being dropped in at the deep end after Planchon's dismissal through the design and development of the legendary 15 S 8 to the glorious championship year of 1927. Not content with that (!) we detail the subsequent history, owners and successes of the four team cars and the two 'Chula/Lory' versions up to the present day. Profusely illustrated with many hitherto-unseen photographs and scans of Lory's copious notebooks and records (try translating those at 2 o'clock in the morning!) we have attempted to do justice to this magnificent jewel of a racing car. We hope all those who obtain a copy will enjoy reading it and, hopefully, further their knowledge and understanding of motor racing in the 'Golden Age'. Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite
Colin Musgrove 28-01-17
Dateline 5th August 1913...venue Le Mans Circuit d'Ecommoy and Paul Bablot with riding mechanic Losson waits on the start line for the non-championship 3rd Grand Prix de France (not to be confused with the 13th Grand Prix de l'ACF which had been run three weeks earlier at the Amiens circuit). Interested onlookers include Charles Faroux (in the bush hat) the omnipotent owner/editor of 'La Vie Automobile'. The timekeeper checks his watch, the starter, in white coat (and duelling scar!) is ready to set in motion an epic drive.
The car? The all new for 1913 Delage Type Y weighing in at 820kg dry, only fractionally above the stipulated 800kg and utilising aluminium wherever prudent and possible...the only wood on the car was the steering wheel rim. Powered by the Michelat-designed 6.2 litre (6208cc - 105 x 180mm) 4-cylinder masterpiece of an engine, the details of this power unit were kept as a closely guarded secret. As in the rest of the car maximum lightness was sought in the engine. It boasted a hollow four-part crank running in five ball bearings with 'trick' ribbed retainers, hollow rockers and pushrods, 8 spark plugs and two magnetos (it could run on either or both) and a host of other refinements...it wasn't 'state of the art'...it WAS the art! Driving through an aluminium encased 5-speed gearbox with manual lockout on 1st and 5th with 4th being direct and utilising the ultimate quality Derihon BND steel throughout, as indeed did the axle and many engine components the entire car was a testament to the magnificence of Delage design and manufacture. Indeed, in its entire racing history as Delage team cars all cars always finished.
At the previous GP de l'ACF at Amiens, the Type Y's first outing, they had been hyper-quick and the lead battle between Guyot and Bablot in the Delages versus Boillot and Goux in the Peugeot EX3s was wheel to wheel in the opening laps...don't forget that this was 29 laps of a 31km public road circuit! Then problems...both Delages suffered punctures requiring wheel-changes and, worse, Guyot's mechanic, Achille Seeuws, jumped from the car before it had stopped and got his leg run over and badly hurt. Guyot had to fix the tyre and the mechanic before driving relatively slowly back to the pits. Result...Peugeot 1-2 with Bablot and Guyot 4 and 5 behind Chassagne's Sunbeam...Bablot set a new record lap though as some consolation. Thus three weeks later at Le Mans Louis Delâge and co were out to stuff the cars of his erstwhile employer Peugeot. Now, the previous race counted towards the Championship and was run to the regulations then in force i.e. 800 - 1100kg weight limits and a maximum fuel consumption of 14mpg but the Le Mans race, being non-championship adhered to the weight limits but fuel consumption was free. Peugeot were entered but, at the very last minute, withdrew citing "insufficient time to make the necessary carburation adjustments" as their reason! This fooled nobody and the general consensus was that they'd chickened out having seen how quick the Delages were. If the Delages could tickle their carburation they would probably be even quicker. This time Delage entered three cars for Bablot, Guyot and a third for Arthur Duray, the New York-born Frenchman of Belgian parentage who was something of a veteran by then. While the Peugeots depleted the field slightly there were still 19 starters including, worryingly, the 4 car Mercedes team of Lautenschlager, Pilette, Salzer and Elskamp. In the light of the political situation pertaining the hopes of all France rested on the Delages with worried faces remembering the 1908 event at Dieppe where Lautenschlager and his Mecedes won causing gloom throughout France.
The Le Mans Circuit d'Ecommoy was even longer than the Amiens circuit being 54km per lap with 10 laps (540km) to be completed. As usual it was closed public roads being principally a semi-compacted loose stone/gravel surface through villages and countryside with one straight being nearly 13km long (!).
Not all the above pics are taken during a race with people wandering about! Nonetheless you can see what mighty men these pre WW1 racers were.
The cars were started at one minute intervals and at the end of lap one it was clear that Bablot in his Type Y was by far the quickest car on the circuit with Guyot not much slower. Duray had a problem with the magneto which dropped him to 7th behind the four Mercedes but the mag mysteriously cured itself and he got back up to speed again. Lap after lap Bablot increased his lead setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Guyot had held second in spite of some slower pit-stops due to Seeuws, the mechanic, hopping about on his injured leg from the incident at Amiens three weeks previously. Came the final round of pit-stops and Bablot had a commanding lead but Guyot had dropped to third, albeit only a minute behind Pilette in the Merc. Then...disaster! When Losson swung the motor he and Bablot contrived to flood it! Try as he might Losson couldn't get the mighty engine to fire and completely exhausted himself in the process.
Losson exhausts himself...Charles Faroux looks on and 'Saviour' Molon (deep white collar-flat 'at) shouts to Louis D "Let me have a go"
Losson is distraught and Louis Delâge is beside himself seeing victory seemingly snatched away with Pilette's Mercedes having gone past. 'Cometh the hour, cometh the man' and Léon Molon, who had retired his Vinot et Deguingand on lap 2 with bearing failure and who was in the Delage pit offered to have a go. Molon was an aviator well used to swinging aeroplane propellers and with one mighty heave the Type Y burst into life! Regs allowed a change of crew but 'change' meant 'change' so Léon Molon had to leap into the mechanics seat and endure 54km of Bablot driving like a man possessed. Paul Bablot smashed his own lap record, caught the Merc of Pilette inside half a lap and going on to win by nearly 5 minutes. To further rub the Mercs noses in it Guyot also caught Pilette near the end giving Delage a famous 1-2 victory. Duray came home a creditable 5th after his sparks problems. The Type Ys didn't race again in Europe but the aforementioned WF Bradley did one of his demon deals and two of the three team cars were shipped to the US to be entered in the Indy 500 in 1914...and they won again with French cars taking the first four places, Delage (Thomas) - Peugeot (Duray) - Delage (Guyot) - Peugeot (Goux). Sadly the third team car (Bablot's GP winner) didn't survive as, en route to Mont Ventoux it burst a front tyre with Bablot driving and went into a ditch, throwing driver and mechanic out but without much injury. The accident caused a fuel line to rupture, the car caught fire and was pretty much destroyed. The Indy winning car is now in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (where it says it is the 1913 GP winner...probably as a result of Bradley being economical with the truth!) In Europe 1914 was to be the year of the Type S, the fabled 'Desmodromic' Delage but that's for another time. Anyway, Louis D had a great celebration after the event and presented Léon Molon (who could not attend) a magnificent chronometer...very richly deserved.
Guyot Bablot Faroux Louis D Michelat Duray Lossom
Colin M 22.09.16
With my interest (!) in the ladies who graced the Concours d'Elegance circuit of the Twenties and Thirties I was going to write a post on a few of them. Contrary to popular opinion these ladies were not just pretty faces obtained by shouting "Anyone for Concours?" at the stage door of the Moulin Rouge! No, many of these femmes en vogue led very interesting lives and occupied quite high positions in French society. Nadine Picard, for example, was born in Brazil of Jewish parents which was to prove something of a problem when she was later living virtually next door to the Gestapo HQ in the ave. Foch. She married (much to the displeasure of her new father-in-law) the son of Henri Fayol, the management science pioneer, when she was 19. Henri fils also became a top industrial strategist and government official in charge of iron and steel production. This was singularly lucky for Nadine as her husband managed to get an official (signed by Hitler) exemption from wearing the hated 'étoile jaune' and all the restrictions (like being sent to the gas chambers) that went with it. Nadine continued to live in the ultra prestigious XVIe address until her death at the age of 90. Nadine is the lady in the header pic on my homepage :-)
However...nobody compares even closely to the lady who graced almost exclusively Delage cars and became a great friend of Louis Delâge. That lady is actress/singer/comedienne Betty Spell. Born Leone Betina Guimbellot on September 25, 1903 at Rochefort her life reads like some Roaring Twenties fiction! Betty lived to be 103 years old and I have, courtesy of my good friend Patrick Delâge, a lovely picture of her with Patrick and his D8 when she was just 100 years old! I confess to be totally enamoured with Betty's life story and I can do no better than post her own words which she jotted down when she was 89! I have made the story into a flip-book and added a few illustrations. I have also done a less-than-perfect translation into English. Here they are, I hope you all enjoy them.
French Version: online.pubhtml5.com/iicb/xipb/#p=1
English Version: online.pubhtml5.com/cycj/jtcf/#p=1
Before my erudite post disappeared into the ether I was bidding you all welcome and offering a less than convincing explanation as to why yet another old fart had taken to the blogosphere. As some will know, I'm a reasonably active Facebooker in various classic and vintage groups but Facebook is not really the medium for intelligent discussion! Notwithstanding my propensity for rambling on a bit ( too long, didn't read!) a few misguided souls have asked me why I don't write a blog. Well, I've always given the stock answer "Too busy" which, of course, is a cop-out! Sure, I spend a great deal of time on research for my 'Ultimate Delage Resource Website' (don't ask, it will go live in the due fullness of time!) and other topics but there's always time to scribble a few extra lines.
Problem is...the historic vehicle virtual world is full of blogs good, bad and indifferent, mainly the latter regurgitating the same old inaccurate badly-researched guff. No point adding to that and being tarred with the same brush let alone getting involved in arguments with self-appointed experts! Nonetheless there is an altogether different perspective from which to view historic vehicles. Nowadays I want to find out a lot more about the people involved in the manufacture and, particularly, the ownership of these vehicles when new. It was on just such a quest for info on a D8 Delage the other day when I found myself wandering off into the realms of haute couture, business management theory, French films of the 1930s, the Paris stage and the French textile industry! Not to mention a certain lady being half-Jewish and living virtually next door to the Gestapo during the occupation of Paris...'next door' being on the Avenue Foch! All this, and a lot more, as a result of some desultory research into one particularly elegant lady who appears as an essential adjunct to mainly Delage cars on the Concours d'Elegance circuit. She, and her counterparts, will be the subject of my first 'proper' post so here's one of her quotes (concerning Christian Dior) to whet your appetite:
« L’homme qui sait habiller une femme est plus précieux que celui qui la déshabille.»
"The man who can dress a woman is more valuable than one who undresses her."
Well that was a good start...I used an Alt code instead of the French keyboard and lost about 500 words of text!! :-(
Locust chaser, butterfly hunter, chemist, bee-keeper, boater, car restorer and racer, award-winning motoring historian and author (not that you'd guess from this rubbish!)